Monday, December 26, 2011

This day, 30 years ago.

Irony of life: People who love giving advice on relationships are usually the ones who are bad at them.

I've never had a real, super serious relationship, so I try to refrain from giving unsolicited advice on how to make a relationship work because to be honest, I don't know how. The weird thing is, people who've been through a lot of relationships that didn't work out are the ones who are the most generous with the tips and tricks.

On the one hand, they've had a lot of experience so they might be wiser and know better. On the other hand, if they've failed in all their past relationships, maybe there's something they've done wrong but kept doing over and over again without learning from their mistakes, so they might not be the best persons to take advice from.

I don't really believe in soulmates. The universe doesn't really take a particular interest in your love life so if there's someone out there who might be perfect for you, the universe is not going to play matchmaker and make both your hearts beat in sync whenever you pass by each other. That being said, I don't believe in coincidences either. If somehow you meet someone who is really that piece of the puzzle that snugly fits into yours, it's just because you have things in common that make you gravitate towards each other in a natural manner. Either way, no matter how perfect you are for each other, you still have to put effort to make a relationship work.

Good things will only come out of hard work. If you think finding your significant other is hard, I think it's harder to keep them, and it's even harder to keep the flame alive. I know old couples who stay together for the kids or for fear of being alone, but you can see there's no longer chemistry between them, and I pray to God not to let me be one of them.

Which is why I would like to wish my parents a very happy 30th anniversary. Even after all these years, you can still see the love they radiate towards each other. God knows it has not always been smooth sailing, but they managed to ride through the waves, keep the mast upright, and patch up the wear and tear of the sails along the way.

Love you, Mak and Abah. Always have and always will.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Annoying People Part XII: Pretending to be Inadvertently Snobbish

Someone just posted a link on Facebook about why people need to go travelling.

He was all like, "Yeah, people! Go travel the world and you'll learn and see a lot of things from different points of view and not just be trapped in your own cocoon and think in a uni-dimensional way."

I totally agree with him, of course, but I don't agree with the way he urges his friends on Facebook to start travelling around the world because that's just really inconsiderate. Listen, spoilt kid. Most people don't travel because they can't afford it, and it's not really a choice. If given the chance, I think most people would do it in a split second, no questions asked. You putting a link on Facebook asking people to globe-trot is like preaching to the penniless converted.

People don't need convincing that travelling is good, douche. It's just financially impossible for most of them. You're just lucky you've got the chance to see the world with the government's money. Putting that advice column on Facebook is just a way of implying that you have seen the world. If you want people to benefit from travelling, why not put it in writing, telling people what you have seen during your travels. That way you can impart your knowledge or even small anecdotes about other regions of the world. If all you want to do is tell people that you've been somewhere far away, do know that people would really prefer that you shut your trap.

Next thing you know, you'll be telling homeless people that sleeping on a bed at home is better than on a cardboard box in the street.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Dangerous Method


I just got back from watching A Dangerous Method starring Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley. It's a story about how Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud crossed paths which led to the birth of psychoanalysis.

Let's do negatives first. First off, Keira Knightley. I wasn't convinced by her acting and I can't say I care much about the incoherent Russian accent she tries to do. The casting would have been spot-on if it wasn't for Knightley's presence which stands out like a sore thumb. The only Keira film in which I think she did a good job was Bend It Like Beckham, where she was most believable as a tomboyish English girl. I can't actually spell out my criteria of a bad acting. All I know is that whenever Keira was on screen, I saw her as the celebrity Keira Knightley and not as Sabina Spielrein. The thing is, Sabina is such a pivotal character to the movie, the very reason of the clash between Jung and Freud. Knightley could have easily carried the whole movie, but in my opinion, she fell flat.

Secondly, I think the film is too short and condensed resulting in the story of Otto Gross being grossly (ha!) underdeveloped. I didn't quite get the whole conflict between Jung and his wife as things went so fast. The movie is so compressed that it seemingly took only two therapy sessions for Jung to completely cure Sabina who is supposed to be this hopeless suicidal nutjob. I completely understand the difficulty of squeezing a parallel biopic of two important figures in psychoanalysis within a short time frame, but such a film largely deserves a much longer running time in order for the viewers to really grasp the intensity of the dispute between the two protagonists and for the emotions to seep in. I really would have loved to see more of Sigmund Freud's character since in this movie Freud doesn't get enough screen time. The short, intermittent bits we see of him somehow make him come off as the bad guy who's cocky, intransigent, extremely self-righteous and even slightly racist. Then again, you cannot go see a movie hoping it would be as detailed as the book it is adapted from. So I'll try reading the book when I have time.

Now we'll start on the positives. Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen nailed it as Jung and Freud, respectively. Vincent Cassel, despite having only five minutes of screen time, did a pretty good job depicting Otto Gross, a fellow psychoanalyst who's also a polygamous sex addict.

The movie is set in Switzerland around the turn of the century, so you can expect breathtaking sceneries of la belle époque. The script is top notch. Not too difficult for the uninitiated in psychology, and not too simplified so as to insult the viewers' intelligence. People still need some notions in psychology in order not to get completely lost, but usually people who decide to watch A Dangerous Method are those who already know who Freud is and have a vague idea of what he did to change history.

This film is based on a true story so it doesn't have the usual beginning-conflict-climax-resolution narrative structure, and I like that.

All in all, I think this is a great movie with very heavy but not superfluous dialogues. You have to listen to every bit, every analogy and every retelling of dream.

It made me think, and it taught me things. I love going out of the movie theater feeling that I have learned new stuff.

I went with a friend who is not at all into psychology, and all he could say at the end of the movie was, "Bodoh punya cerita. Nasib baik Keira Knightley tunjuk tetek."


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Self-racism in the Asian community

Loosely quoted from a friend:

"People in Asia look up to the Whites too much. Asians approve of everything the Whites do or have. If you see an Asian talking to a white person, you'll see the 'I want to please this white person' smile and the excessive nodding and the timid, self-conscious laughter. Asians just love to get approval from white people. 90 percent of Asian countries are extremely west-centric, and in these countries white people get special treatment in a lot of things, especially in the service sector. A lot of Asians associate fair skin with beauty, and beauty with superiority. This instills an inert inferiority complex in Asian children vis-à-vis their white counterparts. Sometimes I wish I was White, just so I'd get the same special treatments as well."


There's an awful lot of truth in what he said.

I just wished he hadn't said the last sentence. If he were to be white, it would certainly solve his problems with Asians, but the problem of inferiority complex in the Asian community as a whole would still persist. It made him sound somewhat selfish to want to get rid of the problem by joining the enemy (not that White people are enemies, but you get what I mean.)

Instead, he should have wished some Asians were not as bigoted towards their own people as they are now. Countless are the times I had people telling me to get a French wife (by saying French, white is automatically implied) so that I'd have beautiful white-mixed babies. I don't mind people telling me that because statistically children of mixed heritage tend to be considered good looking. However, I once got pretty disturbed when I heard someone say, "I know this girl who's of Chinese and orang putih heritage, but she looks more Chinese than orang putih, so she's not very pretty. Her little sister on the other hand takes a lot more after their orang putih dad, so she's really beautiful."

I would lobby for that last sentence to be chosen as the definition of 'self-hate' in the dictionary. You know, when your ultimate dream in life is for your kids not to take after your genes for fear they're going to be unattractive, you should not even consider reproducing at all because I wouldn't want you to pass that ugly self-hating gene either.

If you were a sample in my genetic algorithm project, I would eliminate your stupid genes from the population so fast you wouldn't even have the time to finish putting on that eighth layer of whitening cream on your butt cheeks.